Writer’s block. We’ve (probably) all been there. The words won’t come, the ideas fall flat and your motivation falters to a halt. How to combat it? There are plenty of ways. One is simply to write anyway. You could try freewriting, or find a great prompt or go for a walk. And you could also read. Recently, reading is what lifted be from a writer’s slump, and got me back on track. So here are four reasons reading is a perfect choice when writer’s block has got you down:
1. It’s still progress
Many an author has suggested that reading is an essential tool for writing. Whether you read a little, or read a lot, chances are everything you’ve read has helped to make you a better writer. And reading is a valuable way to experience vocabulary and language and the general structure of story telling. As such, reading is still progress. Call it career progression if you will! If you really can’t write, but feel you should be, try reading for a while instead.
“Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.” – Richard Steele
2. It’s inspiring
A book, a real published book, is the product of somebody who was once unpublished. And you’re able to read it because their time and their effort and their skill paid off. It’s a fantastic way to remind you of that end goal, if its your dream to be published. But it’s not just that…experiencing the way an author has put words together, their choice of metaphor, their descriptions of characters, is a really fantastic way to give you the motivation to get back to writing your own story. I always find myself, especially upon reading a particularly beautiful sentence, desperate to pick up my own pen and get down some words.
3. It gives you a break
Sometimes all you really need is a break. To step away from your work and come back to it with fresh eyes. Reading should help you relax, help you escape, and fill your mind with something different and new. This way you can return to your work with a fresh perspective, which can trigger ideas to help you push past the block.
4. It reminds you what you enjoy (and what you don’t!)
There isn’t a book in the world loved by everyone who read it, and I’m sure we’ve all read a number of books we’ve disliked for various reasons. Reading helps to remind you what it is you love about a story, but also what puts you off. This can really help you to work on your own book, because you’ll be in the right mindset to decide what works for you and what doesn’t.
“Read everything — trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it. Then write. If it is good, you’ll find out.” – William Faulkner
Do you read when writer’s block hits? Or do you have a different method that helps you pull through? Please share your thoughts and tips in the comments below!
Keep writing (and if you can’t, keep reading!)